Parenting Fail: My Achilles Heel

Our first ever family holiday abroad to France with 4 young children required a significant amount of planning – flights, car hire, travel insurance, health cards, passports, finding four booster seat backpacks on eBay. All that was before I even got to sun cream, clothing, swimming kits, activities to entertain everyone etc. But I was feeling confident. Nothing I, super mum, couldn’t handle.

Check in, flights and collecting the car hire completed, everyone had been marvelously entertained with their journey packs and snacks. Now, safely clipped into their seats into our enormous hire van (that Dad had booked!) I console myself that the space is helpful and I’m not the one driving anyway. Even the rain could not dampen my spirits – this is going to be great!

We check in at the campsite and arrive at our mobile home, which seems significantly smaller and closer to others than the pictures suggested. It’s Sunday evening and I have 15 mins before the campsite shop shuts to buy essentials. No problem. Supermarket sweep! I am smashing this. Granny, who has now arrived to join us, is depressed about the weather and the accommodation. I am upbeat, “It will all seem better tomorrow. Join us for my once in a lifetime pasta-ham-sauce-thingy, with this pink fizzy drink I’ve found, it’ll all be fine!” Everyone witness my all round excellence, I am the patron saint of holidays!

The next day is set to be grey and gloomy. No problem. There’s a fab town down the road with its weekly market. Let’s go soak up some culture and the sun will be out by the afternoon. Great trip round the town, if you just ignore the fact that my poor sister-in-law was stung by a wasp inside her mouth. Fab beach. Cousins happily kicking a ball with the dads. And then it happens.

My husband drops to the floor holding his ankle, looking around to see who threw a cricket ball at his leg.

I am not prepared to accept that there is anything wrong. He sits on the mat with an ice pack from the cool bag on his ankle. “It will be fine in a minute, don’t be dramatic.” It is only after my 8-year-old son and I have had to carry Dad off the beach, and I have had to drive the flipping lorry back to the campsite that I am prepared to acknowledge that perhaps hospital is required.

The wonderful Uncle Tim, fluent in French, whisks Dad off to the hospital for most of the night returning at 4am. It is confirmed by the plaster cast, the X ray and the diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon – holiday over. He is on crutches. He can’t drive. He can’t walk on it. FOR THREE MONTHS. Forget glass half full – the glass is smashed. That’s my holiday in pieces. I now don’t have time for the Mum jobs, I have to do all the Dad jobs – drive that flipping van, carry all the cases, play all the games, swim every time, light the BBQ, make all the food, do all the everything while he sits reading a parenting book! For real.


Whose Achilles heel is revealed now? The in-control patron saint of holidays – that’s who! This might not be what I planned, but it is 100% what our Heavenly Father has allowed. Almost a year on, I can reflect: my children saw their “super mum” need and ask for help from God and others. My children heard me pray for an empty parking space and prayed for me as I reversed a people-carrying articulated lorry. They watched Dad patiently bearing with it all and regularly apologizing for something that wasn’t within his control to prevent. We saw a “blitz” spirit emerge within our family as everyone mucked in and helped out, we all learned that though we make our plans we do not rule, and that God is much more interested in our hearts than our holiday photos.

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

That’ll give me something to think about as our Easy Jet flight breaks through the clouds on our way back to France this summer – what could possibly go wrong?

Amy Smith